when I use the article "the"? when I omit it?
Jun 26, 2010 1:14 PM
Answers · 3
So let's practice some. 1. I went to Johnny's house and knocked on _____ door. (a/an/the/none?) 2. I've always wanted to have ____ pet. (a/an/the/none?) 3. We went to _____ thrift shop that we went to together last week. 4. I'm thirsty, do you have ___ glass of water? 5. I'm taking ____ train from ____ New York to _____ Chicago. Answers below~ ... ... ...
June 26, 2010
1. The. You say to the listener that you went to Johnny's house, so it is reasonable that the listener will assume that the door you knock on is the door to Johnny's house. That is an assumed specific which requires the article the. 2. A. The speaker doesn't mention a specific pet, so we can make no assumption of what kind of pet that is. So we must use a, as it is a unspecified pet. 3. The. In the second part of the sentence it becomes clear that they are referring to a specific store which the listener knows about (they have been there together before). Thus the listener can assume which store that is, so the is used. 4. A. There is no preexisting knowledge to the listener (that we're aware of anyway) that there is any specific glass of water that the listener might have. As nothing we can't assume that there is a specific glass of water, A is the most likely answer. 5. A (or the)/none/none. In this case the speaker refers to taking a train from Chicago to New York. It is not clear whether the speaker has a specific train in mind or not. A is the safe answer, but the is also a possibility. City names are inherently specific. Unless there is an expressed or assumable confusion regarding city names (or any names, for that matter) they do not require an article. Make some mistakes? That's okay. Proper article usage is an advanced part of English. It's not something you can really force learn. Pay attention to it, practice active listening, and get used to assuming and gathering information from the way others used articles. You'll get more used to them as time goes on, so don't sweat making mistakes with them now.
June 26, 2010
Articles are a foundational and fundamental part of the English language, however they are an advanced part of the language that many foreign learners may struggle with understanding for years. As such, this is a simple question with a very complicated answer. The key to knowing when to use them is knowing WHY we use them. Articles are to help clarify nouns. We can gather a lot of information about the noun simply from the article chosen. So, the first question you should ask yourself when you use a noun, is the noun inherently specific? For instance, cake. Cake isn't inherently specific. If I say 'cake' you won't know what cake I'm talking about. If there is a specific cake I should assume you mean, then you will use 'the.' 'The' is meant to refer to a specific object of a nonspecific category. On the other hand, if when you say cake there is no specific cake I should assume you mean, then you would use the article 'a' or 'an.' A/an represent a nonspecific part of a nonspecific category. So if you say 'a cake' you could refer to any cake. And remember, we should have the listener in mind when we choose these words. The difference between saying "A student isn't here today." and "The student isn't here today." is that in the first example it's assumed that the listener doesn't know who the student is, while in the second it's assumed that the listener knows exactly which student the speaker is talking about.
June 26, 2010
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Language Skills
English, Italian, Portuguese
Learning Language
English, Italian